Thursday 14 December 2023

Godzilla Minus One review: rock the kaiju!

godzilla minus one
Urban redevelopment, Kaiju style

First, Godzilla Minus One is awesome.

Second, they made it for under $15 million USD.


Godzilla Minus One looks as good or better than many $200 million dollar blockbusters. 

Even better, it has a solid emotional core (in a Godzillla film!) and has something to say about Japanese history, society, and the value of human life. It's not an empty, zombie franchise lumbering about devouring money, bereft of soul. 

The human side of the film is centred around a Kamikaze pilot who claims a mechanical problem with his plane in order to skip out on blowing himself up. He comes into contact with other survivors of the war, all of them badly scarred and traumatized by the experience. 

Inevitably, their paths cross with our favourite gargantuan bipedal lizard, Godzilla. 

One of the most striking sequences in the film is a chase at sea: it's absolutely riveting, and reminiscent ofJaws, but better, because it's a gigantic radioactive monster with atomic heat ray breath. Did Jaws have that? I think not!

godzilla chasing ship
Throw him a stick, you fools!

This Godzilla is not cute or cuddly, doesn't mug for the camera, doesn't dance, and takes his urban redevelopment VERY seriously. He's one scary 20,000 ton dude. Personally, I think he's lying about his weight and doesn't weigh a pound less than 40,000 tons. 

The ending has fun schemes from a delightful egghead, and a thematically relevant twist. Thankfully it does not involve giant breath mints. 

The whole movie comes together in a very satisfying way, unlike the vast majority of recent Marvel escapades. 

Frankly, franchise fatigue abounds. Old IP are being resurrected, rebooted, retooled and trotted out for fresh generations constantly. Or maybe time just flies by faster now that I'm old. I've witnessed reboots of reboots. Godzilla Minus One qualifies as (I think) the fourth retelling of the original Godzilla story, but somehow, incredibly, remains fresh and fun, making this entry all the more insanely remarkable. 

The last time a reboot really impressed me was with Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica

And while this film can't compare to my childhood memories of Monster Zero, for my money, it's nevertheless the best Godzilla film ever made, and the most surprising and delightful cinematic experience of the year.*

I never, ever thought I'd say that about a Godzilla flick. 

Will wonders never cease?

Highly recommended. See it in IMAX, even. It's worth it! 

*To be fair, I haven't actually been to the theatre much this year...

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